An encouraging effort that makes leaving Microsoft easier.

Microsoft's over-priced, buggy and privacy-invading Office suite has an unjustifiably large market share. (Read my review of Microsoft Office Word here). I know several people who are fed up of the Microsoft way of doing things and want to move away, for example to Linux. One of their fears is that Libre Office won't satisfy their requirement to stay compatible with colleagues or friends who stay on Windows/Mac.

Only Office to the rescue!

  • It's free (as in beer) and open source (trustworthy).
  • It gives the same, largely familiar interface to users on Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • It opens/saves .doc and .docx files with fewer flaws (if any) than does Libre Office
  • For 90%+ of Microsoft Office users who want to switch away from Linux and Mac, it will reduce the risk of incompatibilty with others.
  • It is an excellent alternative to the proprietary, closed source (and in my opinion untrustworthy) Chinese MS Office knock-off, WPS. Plus, Only Office has fewer restrictions (e.g. it doesn't prevent you from printing, whereas WPS does if you don't pay up).
  • Only Office is also an excellent alternative to Google Docs, Zoho Docs and the online MS Office. There is no more need to give your privacy away by doing everything on the servers of some company who can or do snoop on what you're doing.

I have run Only Office on Windows, Mac and Linux (Manjaro) and have had a relatively positive experience all around. On Windows I had a complaint or two: it was slow to load and changed my preferences for which app opens .pdf files. But that's it. On all platforms, it seems that after the initial install, the first run is a bit buggy or that Only Office even crashes. Subsequent uses are perfectly reliable, however, so if you try it, please keep a little bit of patience in reserve until the app "warms up". It should be worth your while.

Having said that, Only Office does have some features missing that MS Office and/or Libre Office have, e.g:

  • No plugin for Mendeley, EndNote, Zotero or any similar reference management software. (Both MS Office and Libre Office have this.)
  • Only Office cannot save to webdav folders (Libre Office and MS Word can at times struggle with this also - Only Office hasn't got the functionality.)
  • Cannot embed OLE files like MS Word can on Windows. (Mac users won't miss this as Microsoft doesn't offer OLE support in Office for Mac - because Mac users are treated as 2nd class citizens by Apple's competitor.)

The developers of Only Office have done a very good job so far. I hope they continue and succeed.